What is the NCBA and what does it do? – Towpath Talk, December 2015

Continuing our series illustrating the diversity of the National Community Boats Association. This month NCBA director of training Derek Stansfield answers one of the questions which he is frequently asked.

In the many discussions that I have had with organisation and individual, especially in regard to the National Community Boats Association (NCBA) one question is prevalent amongst others and that is: ‘What is the NCBA and what does it do?’  A valid question and one which required an answer for which we need to go back to looking at what the vision of the NCBA is and how that is achieved.

Firstly the NCBA is a registered charity and company. Its vision is a network of well resourced, well managed community boating organisations that promote access to UK waterways as well as promoting the safe use of community boats as a resource available for the benefit of disadvantaged and excluded groups in ways that promote social cohesion, protect the environment and support economic regeneration.

Quite a wide range of aspirations that require a set of objectives to be set, which will ensure that the vision is realised.  Those set of objectives are:

  • To build an effective network of community boating organisations within the UK, to enable positive boating opportunities for the community.
  • To provide organisational support for community boating organisations within the UK to build capacity at the local and regional level and to ensure there is a clear pathway for development.
  • To promote community involvement and togetherness of diverse groups of people
  • To provide training and support opportunities for excluded and/or disadvantaged people within the community as part of a wider pathway to work experience and/or employment.
  • To set, train and monitor quality standards for community boating in the UK, including specific boating safety standards.
  • To promote the work of community boating organisations as a positive leisure experience for all of the community.
  • To work strategically for the national community boating community and where appropriate in partnership with other organisations to promote the benefits of waterways regeneration and influence relevant public policy.

It is one thing to set a list of objectives but this will be of no value if there are not an associated list on how these objective will be achieved.  The NCBA is built on four pillars those being: National Voice; Training; Networking; and Standards and through these the NCBA would hope to achieve or progress to these objectives by:

  • Bringing disadvantaged people onto the waterways who would not otherwise have access to them.
  • Train staff and volunteers to have a better understanding of user needs and expectations.
  • Increase the range of educational, cultural and recreational activities both afloat and ashore.
  • Improve standards of community boat handling, safety and customer care.
  • Bring organisations old and new into contact and partnership with one another for mutual benefit.
  • Providing a concerted voice for community boat organisations and representing their views at a national level.

The NCBA is in a unique position to bring a diverse range of groups to the waterways who would otherwise not have access to them.  A recent survey of NCBA members has illustrated how diverse these groups are.

The survey also illustrated the enormous amount of volunteers and the hours that they give to their projects and thus to the waterways.  More detailed results of this survey will be given at a later date hopefully through a conference convened by the NCBA.

It has a progressive training and qualifications structure in place that is run by Accredited Training Centres who are regularly moderated.  It is engaging with other national organisations on matters that affect it on the waterways with a view to obtaining outcomes that will be both transparent and consistent and of mutual benefit to all parties.

That then is the NCBA, an organisation heavily reliant on volunteers, including many of its officers, but with a clear vision and a strong foundation on which to build the objectives and processes to achieve that vision.

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